Lack of trust in vaccines and freedom of choice.
These are the two main reasons people in the Caribbean, especially unvaccinated people under age 30, gave when asked why they were hesitant to get the jab.
Over 5,000 people from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, and St Vincent and the Grenadines were accessed in a survey commissioned by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and conducted by the Caribbean Development Research Services Inc (Cadres).
During a virtual discussion held by the UNICEF yesterday, the findings of the survey called the Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Survey Report 2021 were revealed.
The results showed most unvaccinated people believed the vaccines were developed too quickly and, as such, they didn’t trust their efficacy. Additionally, many people were unaware of what the vaccines contained and that prompted their hesitancy.
A common trend also noted was simply that people said it was their personal choice not to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
People with a maximum of secondary-level education, those who voted against the government in their countries, and those who worked in non-institutional environments also voted against being vaccinated.
Social media also played a negative role in swaying people against being vaccinated.
On the vaccine hesitancy index, Trinidad and Tobago weighed in at 4.4 out of ten.
Unvaccinated rethinking position
Responding to the findings yesterday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the report would now help develop communication strategies to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
He said, “It is my strong opinion that the study came at the opportune time for the region and the world as we experience decreasing levels of vaccination. At Trinidad and Tobago, we are currently at 48 per cent fully vaccinated. That means, we have already vaccinated the innovators, the early adopters and the early majority. What we are after now and which this study will help us, is that late majority. And, I really don’t know what we will do with the laggards in society. Those who are just not going to get vaccinated and probably will not change their minds.”
He said he was sure in the coming months to craft the necessary communication strategies, use the appropriate communications platforms, and this new body of knowledge which USAID has graciously funded together with UNICEF will help move Trinidad and Tobago from its current 4.4 to as close as humanly possible to three.
The report also revealed that 39 per cent of people unvaccinated said they would be willing to rethink their positions.
To change their minds, people said they needed more scientific information about side effects of the vaccines, as well as its impact their sexual health.
When it comes to children, people who were in agreement with vaccinating children said it should be given to children at the secondary level more so than younger children.